Headquartered in Dallas, TX, the American semiconductor manufacturer Texas Instruments (TI) is the world’s third-largest microchip manufacturer, as of April 2011. Its logic and processor technologies power many of the smartphones, calculators, computers and other electronic devices we use daily. Recently, the corporation announced that its Multicore Software Development Kit, which is used by programmers to develop applications for TI platforms, will be available in a version for low-power processors. According to the stock market insight website OptionMONSTER, Texas Instruments stock has recently experienced thousands of put options, which could indicate financial volatility in a positive or negative direction.
Texas Instruments is one of the strongest companies in its field throughout the world, making it a great choice for featuring in IPWatchdog’s Companies We Follow series. Those who are interested in the ever-growing world of the semiconductor may be interested to see the upcoming developments affecting this sector of technology. We’ve explored the recent patent applications and issued patents published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and assigned to TI for a clearer look at this technology firm’s research and development aims.
Today, we’ve chosen for our featured patent application an interesting development that may finally make practical indoor mapping applications for electronic device owners feasible. This system, developed by Texas Instruments, would use wireless local access network analysis of device motion within a building instead of satellite-based systems to provide an exact location of a device user. Other patent applications have been filed by TI to protect systems of determining accurate touch commands on a multi-touch screen surface, as well as a plastic-packaged semiconductor device that is lightweight and better protected against electrical shorts.
The patents issued by the USPTO to any corporation are an important indicator of that company’s strength in intellectual property, and we have an intriguing assortment of patents assigned to Texas Instruments recently. One issued patent focuses on better systems of video processing to prevent digital video from developing a flicker effect. Another patent protects a system of improving digital navigation programs that respond better to a device’s actual state within a moving vehicle. We’ve also taken a look at one patent that provides adaptive forms of partitioning system resources within an electronic device.
Apparatus and Method for Indoor Positioning
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130293416
In any public space, it can be assumed that a large amount of people inside of the building will be in the possession of some form of mobile electronic device. In many cases, it may be beneficial to provide the device owner with more information about the organizations operating within the building, or their current location. For example, a mall could release a software application for mobile devices providing a floor plan to shoppers that helps them find individual stores.
However, these mobile apps may have limited use within buildings because of the difficulties inherent in locating devices when contained within a building. Satellite-based location systems, such as global positioning systems, require a direct line-of-sight between the device and the satellite to return accurate readings. Relying on these technologies is also expensive because they require specialized satellite receivers.
This patent application, filed by Texas Instruments with the USPTO, would protect a system of determining the location of a mobile device within a building using wireless local access network (WLAN) communications. When a device enters an area where satellite reception is blocked, the movement of a device can be determined by WLAN access points located throughout a building. This type of system will have greater application as wireless Internet systems become ever more ubiquitous in public buildings.
The location analysis provided by WLAN access points, when the device is in an area of poor satellite reception, is further aided by a motion measurement system and a position estimation system. The motion measurement system logs information regarding the device movement, while the position estimation system uses satellite information for a point of reference to the device’s probable location. Location information collected through this location system can be uploaded to a positioning database, so as to improve future location determination through crowdsourcing.
Claim 1 of this Texas Instruments patent application would protect:
“A method for indoor positioning, comprising: determining, by a wireless device, a reference location of the wireless device, based on satellite positioning, as the device passes between areas of satellite positioning signal reception and satellite positioning signal non-reception; measuring, by the wireless device, while in the areas of non-reception, signals transmitted by wireless local area network (WLAN) access points (APs); measuring, by the wireless device, while in the areas of non-reception, parameters of motion of the wireless device; estimating positions of the wireless device in the areas of non-reception based on the reference location and the parameters of motion; and generating a positioning grid for positioning based on the signals measured by the wireless device at the estimated positions.”
Other Patent Applications
Texas Instruments, as one of the world’s leading developer of semiconductor technologies, regularly files dozens of patent applications with the USPTO. We’ve pulled up a couple of extra patent applications that highlight what seem to be interesting new developments to the corporations semiconductor products. For instance, more compact semiconductor designs are discussed in U.S. Patent Application No. 20130277816, entitled Plastic-Packaged Semiconductor Device Having Wires with Polymerized Insulator Skin. This would protect a system of creating lightweight semiconductors with a wire density heavy enough to prevent against wire sweeps which can cause electrical shorts. U.S. Patent Application No. 20130278328, filed under the title Power Transistor Partial Current Sensing for High Precision Applications, describes a system of more accurately determining the current of a power transistor used to modulate a supplied current, such as in the case of a buck converter or boost converter.
A few other Texas Instrument patent applications discuss some interesting innovations to user interfaces in various computing system. User inputs on large touchscreen displays are the focus of U.S. Patent Application No. 20130285944, titled Programmable Resistive Multi-Touch Detections and Regionalized Resistive Multi-Touch Sensing. This system uses switching circuits coupled with touch detection circuits to determine a zone for a user touch event to distinguish between multiple user inputs based on zone or touch pressure. Digital data communication interfaces will benefit from U.S. Patent Application No. 20130290984, entitled Method for Infrastructure Messaging. This application discusses a system of improving low latency inter-processor communications for multi-core shared memory platforms, especially those that run e-mail applications.
Issued Patents of Note
The Companies We Follow series always likes to take a moment to profile the recent additions to the patent portfolio for the corporations that we feature in this column. Recently, Texas Instruments has been the beneficiary of a large number of issued patents protecting an interesting array of computer technologies.
Today, we’re noticing a couple of patents that protect innovative improvements to multimedia display and consumption. More consistent digital video feeds are the main focus of U.S. Patent No. 8582645, which is titled Reducing Flicker in the Display of Video Streams. This system is designed to rectify the frame-by-frame inconsistencies that can develop in digital video and create a visual flickering effect for viewers. U.S. Patent No. 8572541, entitled Method and System for Adaptive Physical Design, protects a system of adaptive power domain floorplans for electronic devices that are more energy efficient than typical hardware partitions. These adaptive power domains can help manage applications that aren’t being operated by shutting down those programs.
This corporation has also received various patents for semiconductor improvements for a wide range of consumer and business activities. Better navigation systems are protected for Texas Instruments through U.S. Patent No. 8583360, issued under the title Usage Mode Determination of Navigation System. This system provides more accurate navigational readings for electronic devices used for mapping applications while driving, whether that device is tethered to a holder or is placed on an open seat and jostled around. U.S. Patent No. 8575845, titled Method and Apparatus to Measure Light Intensity, protects a system of measuring light emitting diode (LED) output in a circuit and adjusting the LED’s intensity without the expensive use of photodiodes.
Finally, we also took a look at U.S. Patent No. 8581629, titled Sychronous State Machine with an Aperiodic Clock. This issued patent describes a system of improving transistor control in boost converters for synchronous state machines, used for designing computer and logic programs.